INDIANAPOLIS – Oakland University, the two-time defending Horizon League champions in men’s and women’s swimming and diving, were selected as the unanimous favorite in both the men’s and women’s preseason poll.
Last year, Oakland extended both teams’ streaks of consecutive conference championships at the NCAA Division I level to 16 apiece. At the 2015 Horizon League Championship, the Golden Grizzlies took home 24 first-place finishes en route to its second League title in as many seasons.
Led by head coach Pete Hovland, the Golden Grizzlies boast the returning women’s swimming and diving athlete of the year in Patricia Aschan. Reigning League champion in the 100 freestyle, Tuomas Kiviluoma, will help lead Oakland on the men’s side.
Milwaukee, runner-up to Oakland in both the men’s and women’s competitions last season, ranked second in both polls. Max Gatzke and Nic Halverson, who led the Panthers’ 1-2 finish in the 1650 freestyle a year ago, return this season.
Cleveland State took third on the men’s side with 27 points, while Green Bay was tabbed third on the women’s side with 39. The Vikings were the last men’s program to notch a League championship before Oakland. For the Phoenix, head coach Reed Robelot takes the reigns of the men’s and women’s programs.
Wright State, which took third in the men’s championship last year, was selected fourth in the preseason poll, narrowly placing ahead of UIC by a single point. Mitch Stover, voted the League Freshman of the Year last year, is back for the Raiders.
UIC was picked fourth on the women’s side; Brie Hines, who earned League Freshman of the Year accolades after recording two wins at the championship, will lead the Flames in the pool.
Youngstown State, Cleveland State and Wright State were bunched together in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. At last year’s championship, it was the Raiders who took fifth, followed by the Penguins and Vikings.
Green Bay and Valparaiso rounded out the men’s poll. The Crusaders were picked eighth on the women’s side.
The 2016 Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championship will be hosted by Oakland University at the Oakland Aquatic Center in Rochester, Mich., February 24-27. The championship will be carried live on ESPN3.
Men’s Swimming and Diving Preseason Poll:
1. Oakland – 42 points (6 1st place votes)
2. Milwaukee – 34
3. Cleveland State – 27
4. Wright State – 23
5. UIC – 22
6. Green Bay – 14
7. Valparaiso 6
Women’s Swimming and Diving Preseason Poll:
1. Oakland – 56 points (7 1st place votes)
2. Milwaukee – 48
3. Green Bay – 39
4. UIC – 35
5. Youngstown State – 27
6. Cleveland State – 21
7. Wright State – 19
8. Valparaiso – 7